Wednesday, 25 July 2018

How to build friendships that last

Next week is International Friendship Week and as this article from Psychology Today says – friendship is the best medicine. We find as we get older that friends will come and go throughout the various stages of our life and that are friendships are important for many reasons, not least the fact that they help us define our priorities and steer our thoughts and behaviours in a positive direction.

Another article from Psychology Today outlines 15 reasons why we need solid friendships and how they can help shape our lives and we’ve also compiled a list that will help you build friendships that will last the course of time.

Be yourself

True friends can see through the facade to get to the authentic person that lies beneath. Rather than try and be someone that you're not in order to make friends, concentrate on being true to yourself so that you will attract the right kind of friends that will stick with you no matter what.

Put others first

Lasting friendships are based on give and take. In order to build strong friendships you need to be a good friend yourself. Think about what you can do to be a better friend to others and explore the ways in which you could make their lives easier.

Ask yourself what you look for in a friend

Words such as loyal, kind, understanding, dependable will probably feature. The reality is that the qualities you’re looking for in a friend are the same qualities that they will be looking for too, so try and be the kind of friend you seek.

Spend time together

It’s difficult sometimes to find the time needed to nurture friendships – maybe due to work pressures or stresses at home – it’s easy for us to take friends for granted or neglect them. Like all relationships, friendships take effort, so make sure you carve out time in your schedule to spend with your friends.

Don’t be one of those friends

You know the ones? They only contact us if they want something... Keep the lines of communication open and be available for your friends, all the time, not just when it suits you. It’s fine to call upon our friends for things we need from time to time – and them us – but make sure it’s not all the time!

Keep it positive

We rely on our friends to pick us up when we’re feeling down. They should lift our spirits and guide us to make positive decisions. Try not to burden your friendships with too much negativity or stress. If you are facing challenges do so together, but try and do so from a positive viewpoint.

Honesty is always the best policy

Friendships falter if based on anything less than complete honesty. If misunderstandings arise, tackle them head-on and never let disagreements damage a friendship, try and sort it out. Being open, honest and kind - it's central to building long-lasting friendships.

Have fun!

The friends that laugh together, stay together. Keep your friendships fresh by having fun together. Try new things and visit new places. Connections built on shared experiences are the ones that will stand the test of time.

For some tips on how to find new friends in a digital world, read our previous blog post.

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

How to keep the spark alive in your relationship

Ah, remember the days when you and your partner first met? The butterflies in your stomach and excitement at the very thought of seeing them again. The longer our relationships go on for, the harder it can be to maintain the same level of exhilaration that we experienced when we first met. It’s not impossible though – all it takes is a bit of time and effort, along with a commitment from both of you to keep the spark alive.

We’ve already talked about the secrets of lasting love but it’s no secret that these top tips will go a long way towards helping you re-light the fire within your relationships.

Be selfless

As we grow older our interests change. Make a promise to yourself to find out what makes your partner tick and spend more time doing it with them. Remember when you first met and you’d spend hours finding out what made your partner happy? And be prepared to share more information about your current interests with your partner too. Individuals grow and evolve, don’t leave your partner out of these changes – encourage them to join you on your journey instead. Be interested; be selfless.

Check in – don’t check out

There is a temptation to put less into our relationships the more we get to know someone. We take them for granted and assume things about them, thinking that ‘they wouldn’t be interested’ or ‘they already know’. This is one of the biggest causes of relationship dissatisfaction in long-term relationships. Take the time to connect with your partner – even if it’s just for five minutes at the end of the day – speak to them as if you’d never met them before. Keeping the lines of communication open is critical to keeping the spark alive.

Go phone-free

Admit it or not, we are more tied to our electronic devices than we think. The problem with this is that it distracts us from the people who are sitting right next to us. Imagine if on your first date, you’d interrupted the conversation to look on Facebook; or had taken more interest in your phone than you had in the person you were with. Agree to go phone-free for just an hour a day and spend that hour doing something together – even if it’s just watching a TV programme or talking. Showing that you have time for someone helps to stay connected.

Remember the good old days

Reminiscing is a great way of keeping the memories alive in a relationship. Yes, people change and what was once new can begin to look tarnished, but by focusing on what brought you together can really help strengthen the ties that you have. Take a trip to an eating place you used to frequent, recreate a mini-break from your early relationship days, plans dates in the same way you would have done when you first met. Just because the relationship is older, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t actively enjoy your time together.

Try new things too

You’re never too old to learn new things – taking up a new hobby or trying something new together is as exhilarating as it is terrifying. What it will do for your relationship is provide you with a new topic of conversations and catapult you both out of your comfort zone. The more you have in common, the stronger your relationship will be. Just the thought of trying something new will get the endorphins going – and that’s great news for your relationship and summer's a great time to start!